picasso

8 Nov

PICASSO
At The Playground Theatre.
At the brand-new theatre in Latimer Road there is a character assassination going on. Senor Picasso is surrounded by three of his women who all behave like idiots crazily in love with him. He fell in love easily and left them just as easily. He would nowadays be considered a Love Rat.
The play was written by the late Terry D’Alfonso who said that if she met Picasso, she might have succumbed to his charm. The play was brought to the theatre by Peter Tate who is one of the two artistic directors of the place and who plays the central role. The other artistic director is Anthony Biggs who was previously at Jermyn Street. This production is directed by Michael Hunt.
The new theatre is spectacular with a huge screen backing a circular stage filled with sand so the actors – in this production anyway – work in their bare feet. All around and under the circular stage are lights that change colour constantly to suit the mood of the play. There is a good audience rake giving excellent sight lines.
This is the year of the sex rat. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacy and others have been vilified for their interest in under age women and boys or for using their power to blackmail workers into sex slaves. So many people have said ‘Boycott Weinstein movies, and Spacey productions’. I thought this was just silly being unable to separate the personal life of the man from his artistic achievements, until I saw the Picasso play and wanted to tear down all the Picasso prints in my room.
There are only three ladies in the play – they begin as models, turn into lovers, and end up as cast offs. There were many more. I knew some of them when I lived in Chelsea in the old days, there were several ladies hanging around the Chelsea boites, all of them proclaiming they modelled for Picasso. True or not, most of them were a little more intelligent than those in the play.
The production starts very effectively with a meld of his real women and his paintings of them portrayed on the screen. During the evening many episodes of his life are on film with Milena Vukotic, Margot Sikabonyl and Sandra Collodel appearing. On stage there are Adele Oni as Genevieve who comes to interview him; Claire Bowman as Marie-Therese as his first teenage mistress and Alejandra Costa as Jacqueline Roque the woman he married late in life and who tended him when he died.
The play originated as a trial of Picasso after his death, and the accusations of the women in his life. – then it was decided to feature Picasso as a central character. Oddly enough this brought him to life and made him more despicable because he was no longer a figure from the past – like Leonardo or Michael Angelo. He was there in the flesh asking to be punched in the face.
I realise this had a nasty effect on me. Maybe others will find it less unpleasant.
Still it is a lovely new theatre space and I am looking forward to seeing something a little less controversial.

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